When I chat with a Bonus Mom who tells me she can't love her stepchildren I know I'm listening to a woman whose heart is in the throes of civil war.
I have been told I look like my father, only with hair. My father and his sisters favor each other as well, one sister in particular. As my grandmother recounts the story, I was at her house one day when my aunt’s date arrived to pick her up for an outing. I came toddling into the living room and the guy stared at me. He turned to my aunt, turned to me, turned back to my aunt, then looked at my grandmother who had been silently watching him. She smiled and said, “That’s not her baby. That’s her brother’s child.” He laughed, rubbed his knees, and smiled, exclaiming, “Whew!” I look like my father. I’m also told I act like my mother and my maternal grandmother.
The physical and behavioral characteristics of our natural parents and family are made our own by way of genetics and proximity. Hearing I look or act like my family affirms a sense of belonging.
According to the first chapter of Apostle Peter's second letter (2 Peter 1:4), you and I are partakers of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The characteristics of God’s nature have become our own. Think about that! The power of the Holy Spirit, at work in us, supplants the old nature and imparts aspects of Papa God's nature. Time spent beholding our Father, and in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, causes His traits to swell and balloon in our hearts until all remnants of the old man are expunged. What remains is the fulfillment of our destiny in God, Christ formed and seen in us (Romans 8:29). I want that. Yearn for it. I bet you do as well. Hearing we look and act like our Father affirms our sense of belonging. Better, the more like Christ we become, the more we come alive to who God created us to be. Which is why living with anything less launches us into civil war.
God's desire for you and I is to be like Christ. Most of all, in the way He loves. Christlikeness causes us to love unconditionally, with truth-telling approachability, and grace-filled boldness. To love without requirement for reciprocity. He didn't wait for us to love, or even like Him. Jesus' love placed great import on the Father's will and our rescue. Jesus reached towards us knowing many would reject Him. While we were His enemies, He died for us. For our loved ones. For our enemies. For those somewhere in between...like our bonus children.
His love seizes our hearts, through His precious Holy Spirit, and releases the sweetest joy into our lives as we demonstrate His love to those around us. To deny the Holy Spirit access to accomplish His deepest occupation in our hearts is to deny the formation of the best of our potential. For a blood-bought daughter to refuse to love as Jesus loves, it is to declare war against His greatest work in our lives.
How about we wave the white flag? Just give in? I don't know about you but I certainly don't want to live in battle against what God wants to do in and through my life. It is exhausting maintaining a losing proposition...so much easier to surrender to His way. Even when I feel misunderstood, it's easier. Or, when I have to forgive the 10th insult of the day while I'm still feeling the sting of the 1st, it's easier Or, when the best thing I can say is nothing, the judgement is harsh, perception, wrong. Or, when I'm emotionally exhausted from the journey. Still easier than dealing with the fallout of succumbing to the allure self-lordship.
Not only is it easier to surrender, it's actually triumph. It will feel like a take down of your ego, because it is, but to give-in to loving like Christ is the victorious act of a true champion. One who has overcome the self-focused, self-centered nature of the old man and is walking in the newness of life in Jesus.
What does this mean for our stepmomming? It means you and I can live what we believe. The One we serve is real. His word is the standard. His ways, although sometimes inscrutable, are, at all times, best. We are commanded, then empowered to show His love consistently; to demonstrate to others what has been demonstrated to us.
Part 2 coming in 2 weeks.
Keep stepmomming in grace!
Adapted from Waiting to Be Wanted: A Stepmom's Guide to Loving Before Being Loved.